One of Satan’s strongest and most successful weapons against the church is getting Christians to ‘bite and devour one another’ (Gal 5.15). He does what he can to sow seeds of conflict among Christians so the seeds grow into fights and quarrels among brothers and sisters in Christ. Thomas Brooks – in his usual biblically wise manner – gives remedies against Satan’s attempts to make us fight.
1) “Dwell more upon one another’s graces than upon one another’s weaknesses and infirmities. It is sad to consider that saints should have many eyes to behold one another’s infirmities, and not one eye to see each other’s graces.” Since each Christian has the flowers of grace in his/her garden, other Christians should look upon those sweet, pleasing, and delightful graces that God has given his children. This is one way the devil’s darts will be destroyed.
2) “Dwell upon those commands of God that require you to love one another.” Brooks here quotes numerous NT texts that call Christians to brotherly love (i.e. Rom 13.8, 1 John 4.7, etc). “Dwell upon these precious commands, that your love may be inflamed one to another.”
3) “Dwell more upon these choice and sweet things wherein you agree, than upon those things wherein you differ.” Or, if I can add a great phrase attributed to Augustine, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things, charity.” Back to Brooks: “You agree in most, you differ but in a few; you agree in the greatest and weightiest, as concerning God, Christ, the Spirit, and the Scripture. You differ only in those points that have been long disputable amongst men of greatest piety and parts. You agree to own the Scripture, to hold to Christ the head, and to walk according to the law of the new creature.”
4) “Dwell upon the miseries of discord.” Here Brooks spends only a few sentences (as if to say – “don’t dwell too long on this!”) to explain how it neither glorifies God nor edifies the saints to be fighting.
5) Be the first one to make peace when there is conflict (my re-wording of Brooks). “It is not a matter of liberty whether you will or you will not pursue after peace, but it is a matter of duty that lies upon you; you are bound by express precept to follow after peace, and though it may seem to fly from you, yet you must pursue after it (Heb 12.14).” In other words, be a peacemaker not sometimes, but all the time.
6) Saints should “join together and walk together in the ways of grace and holiness so far as they do agree, making the word their only touchstone and judge of their actions.” Pray together, be in delightful conversation often, mourn together, and rejoice together according to the word.
7) “Labor to be clothed in humility. Humility makes a man peaceable among brethren, fruitful in well-doing, cheerful in suffering, and constant in holy walking (1 Pet 5.5).” “Humility honors those that are strong in grace, and puts two hands under those that are weak in grace (Eph 3.8).”
Those are just 7 of 12 remedies Brooks gives to fight of Satan’s arrows of discord and disunity. They are well-noted, to be sure. This godly advice will not just help local churches, but also Christian marriages and friendships in general. In summary, consider Paul’s prayer for the Philippian church in 1.9 – there he prays that the church would abound in love (filled with knowledge and wisdom) for one another.